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How Physical Education Benefits Children with ADHD

written by: KayWake • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 11/29/2010

For many children, physical education has health benefits, however it can also provide mental benefits as well. This article examines some of the profound benefits of physical education for the ADHD child.

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    ADHD and Physical Education

    The Centers for Disease Control reports that around five percent of school aged children have ADHD. Parents and educators are often eager to implement new techniques to help children with ADHD cope with their condition and improve academic and behavioral difficulties. One way in which ADHD children are finding emotional and behavioral help is with physical education. Through physical education, children have the opportunity to become active and engaged, socially and academically.

    Physical education has many benefits including reinforcing calmness, reducing stress and anxiety levels, increasing self-esteem, encouraging healthy social interaction and increasing academic performance. It is therefore believed that physical education could be an effective alternative to medication for treating ADHD behavioral traits.

    When it is incorporated into the child’s daily routine, a reduction of aggression and defiance take place. Both of these traits have a tendency to manifest in children with ADHD.

    Another benefit of physical education is that it helps a child to improve concentration, which aids in the child’s ability to complete tasks. Children with ADHD often have a difficult time focusing in class, but a session of physical education could improve the child’s ability to accomplish goals.

    One common trait seen in children with ADHD is hyperactivity. An ADHD child may appear to have an excessive amount of energy that may cause the child to squirm and fidget. Physical education provides one outlet by which children can release much of their excess energy. Releasing excess energy is a tried and tested way of reducing hyperactivity levels.

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    ADHD and Physical Education: Incorporating PE

    Children with ADHD also crave constant stimulation which physical education is more than capable of providing. Some common physical exercises that kids with ADHD should consider include walking, jogging, dancing, gymnastics, swimming and martial arts. Any activity that helps a child exert lots of energy is going to be helpful.

    When educators and parents incorporate daily physical activity into a child’s life, they not only improve the child’s physical health, but can also help the child to cope with ADHD behaviors as well. Furthermore, it’s helpful if the physical activity occurs at regularly scheduled times. Providing a defined routine is helpful for ADHD children.

    Parents and teachers can always work together to ensure that physical education becomes a part of the child’s life. There are numerous methods for treating ADHD, and physical education is one method with proven benefits. Children and parents who use physical education to treat the symptoms of ADHD are finding great success.

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    References

    http://www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?Keyword=curriculum&SearchOption=And&SearchType=Keyword&RefineExpand=1&ContentId=11872 - Behavior 4 Learning: Acknowledging the Importance of Physical Education

    http://www.pecentral.org/adapted/factsheets/add-adhd.pdf - PE Central: ADD/ADHD

    http://www.cehs.ohio.edu/resources/documents/bailey.pdf - Ohio University: Physical Activity and ADHD

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